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n2a card on nook hdI reported a few weeks ago that I had purchased an N2A card running Android KitKat for my Nook HD. I’d planned to use it for at least a week as my (close to) sole tablet and report back on my findings.

I’ve now used it long enough to make some recommendations, and I made a few surprising discoveries along the way. The Nook wasn’t quite my sole tablet. My iPad is just better for some tasks, but I used my N2A-running Nook enough to give it a good workout.

I’ll get my biggest objection out of the way first. It’s not terribly stable. I’ve experienced 4-5 (I lost count) crashes over the last two weeks. That’s about one every three days or so, which is a lot from something I spent $40 on. I didn’t stress the card. I used it for reading, note taking, task and calendar management, web browsing and light gaming using my Gameboy emulator. No video and no graphic-heavy gaming. The number of crashes was alarming. Several of the crashes were major enough that I had to reboot twice (the first reboot taking me straight to Nook stock). I seriously considered taking advantage of the 30 day money back guarantee.

The other problem is that it’s slow. Kindle for Android and Scribd have never been known as speed demon apps, but opening books is glacial. Once the book is open, the apps are fine, but that initial load seems to take forever. Not every app is slow. GoodReads, Feedly and others are fine. It’s just a few.

Full screen. So nice for reading!

So why haven’t I returned it? Because darn it, I really like KitKat on my Nook. The screen is just enough better than my Nexus 7 2012 that I noticed it, especially while reading. Scribd and Kindle just look better. I like being able to pop back and forth between my stock Nook reader and Scribd on the N2A card, giving me everything I like on one device. The launcher has a few tweaks that my Nexus 7 didn’t, like setting quiet hours for notifications and a cool battery percentage in the upper right corner of the screen. And of course, there’s immersive mode. Once you’ve had it, it’s hard to go back.

One thing that surprised me? I discovered that I kind of like the Play Books app. Yes, using the download, upload, download method of getting books into it is odd, but right now it’s the optimized-for-KitKat reader I like best. It doesn’t have lots of options, but the look is clean, and it has the important ones.

What about battery life? It was pretty bad until I stumbled across an app called Wakelock. I don’t quite understand what it does, but using the “Partial Wakelock” setting (which is the default) has at least doubled, and perhaps tripled the battery life. If you buy a card, make sure you install that app. Without it, the Nook got quite warm, and the app fixed that too.

So I decided to put up with the crashes, and I actually sold my Nexus 7 (to partially finance a Kindle Paperwhite purchase–more on that in another post). I had been keeping my Nexus 7 so I had a device running KitKat, and the N2A card gives me that, plus the ability to sideload apps. I didn’t see any good reason to keep the Nexus 7 around. I’ve been without my Nexus 7 for almost a week now, and I don’t miss it at all. Now when I leave the house, the choice is between  Nook and iPad instead of Nook, iPad or Nexus 7.

Based on my experience with the N2A I had for my old Nook Color, I expect them to upgrade this one fairly regularly. Performance definitely improved on the old card, and I expect the same here. Sometimes you pay a price for being an early adopter.

If I knew now what I knew then, would I have purchased it? Probably not. I would have waited until it had been upgraded a few times. Should you buy it? It depends on your needs. Are you happy with the apps you can purchase for your stock Nook? Are you okay with the limitations of Android Ice Cream Sandwich? Then probably not. Do you want to sideload apps? Do you prefer the features of KitKat? Are you comfortable with your device needing a bit more hand holding? Then probably yes. If you have an old SanDisk Class 4 SD card lying around, you can purchase the “Download only” version and save some money.

Has anyone else tried N2A? Want to share your impressions?

 
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